Growing Herbs From Cuttings

Many plants do not produce viable seed or, if they do, it is so fiddly or slow to grow that it is easier and quicker to take cuttings from your favorite plant. Always keep your new cuttings moist and in a warm, sunny place.

Softwood Cuttings

1. In late summer, select a non-flowering shoot 3 to 4 in (7.5 to 10 cm) long from a healthy looking plant (Image 1). Try to avoid any stems that are too young and soft as these are harder to root.

2. Cut just below a leaf node using clean, sharp snippers and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. Prepare one cutting at a time so it does not dry out or deteriorate (Image 2).

3. Insert the cutting 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 in (3 to 4 cm) deep into a 50/50 vermiculite and fine compost mix. If the cutting bends too easily, it is too young or the compost too coarse (Image 3). Water well.

Woodier Cuttings

1. Select a firm, slightly woody, non-flowering side shoot 2 to 4 in (5 to 10 cm) long and gently cut or pull it away from the main stem so a sliver of woody bark remains on the cutting (Image 1).

2. Trim any wispy strands from the heel and carefully remove all the leaves from the lower half (Image 2). Insert the cutting into a 50/50 vermiculite and fine compost mix. Water well.

Lazy Cuttings

Look carefully at the underside of herbs such as camomile and thyme and you will see aerial roots growing from their stems. These will develop quite happily if detached and grown on in their own plug or pot.

Aerial Roots Grow in Own Pot

Aerial Roots Grow in Own Pot

2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Propagating Mint Suckers

1. Remove suckers from containerized plants as they root if they touch bare soil (Image 1). Keep one or two for cuttings, but take care where you dispose of the rest as they grow well on the compost heap.

2. Cut just above a leaf node into segments 2-3/4 to 4 in (7 to 10 cm) long and insert four or five into each small pot, so that at least one pair of small young leaves are above the surface (Image 2).

Pinching Out

Sometimes there may not be adequate cutting material available. New side shoots will grow quite quickly if the top 2 to 4 in (5 to 10 cm) is pinched out. These shoots might even make good cuttings themselves.

Pinch Out Side Shoots and use for Cuttings

Pinch Out Side Shoots and use for Cuttings

2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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